Google gets green light for self-driving car


SoftIT Solutions

The state of Nevada has issued a license plate giving Google’s self-driving car the green light to travel along public roads.

The modified Toyota Prius was issued a license bearing an infinity sign next to the left of number “001” after demonstrating its auto-pilot capabilities on highways, neighborhood streets and even the hectic “strip” in Las Vegas.

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles proclaimed the license the first for an autonomous vehicle in the United States.

“I felt using the infinity symbol was the best way to represent the car of the future,” motor vehicle department director Bruce Breslow said in a statement posted at the state agency’s website.

The car was given a unique red license plate to make it recognizable by police and the public as a self-driving test vehicle.

“When there comes a time that vehicle manufactures market autonomous vehicles to the public, that infinity symbol will…

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New App Grades Facebook Apps on Privacy


By Tony Bradley, PCWorld

When someone plays Zynga’s Words with Friends on Facebook they obviously expect to share that experience with whichever Facebook contact they play against. However, by authorizing Words with Friends–or other Facebook apps–users might be sharing much more than they’re aware of.

Facebook is a social network. By definition, the point of being on Facebook at all is to share with others. However, people like to choose which information to share, and who to share it with–they’re funny that way. Apps that collect or share information without the explicit consent of the user are shady, and infringe on the privacy users expect.

Some app developers do a much better job than others at protecting user privacy.Jim Brock, founder and CEO of PrivacyChoice, explains in a blog post, “Facebook doesn’t control or enforce app privacy practices, so it’s up to users to know the privacy risk

To help users help themselves PrivacyChoice has launched PrivacyScore–a privacy report card that grades Facebook apps on how well they respect the user’s privacy. PrivacyScore is a Facebook app as well. You simply type in the name of the app you want to check, and PrivacyScore will return a grade between 1 and 100. The PrivacyScore rating considers a variety of factors, including the privacy policies of the app vendor, and how the app handles personal data.

Don’t bother trying to get a grade on PrivacyScore itself. The PrivacyChoice started out indexing and rating the most popular apps, and does not have comprehensive coverage of all Facebook apps. Its FAQ claims that it is continuing to expand its app coverage.

via New App Grades Facebook Apps on Privacy | PCWorld Business Center.

How to Build a Successful IT Security Career


Janet Pinkerton

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

IT security pros can never stop learning about cyber threats and best security practices. Industry professionals recommend a mix of activities to continually prep for a successful IT security career.

Network Connections Network and build knowledge by joining local chapters of IT security trade associations or online communities, suggests Amy Hagerman, assistant vice president/IT security manager at Independent Bank in Ionia, Michigan. “It’s very cost effective.”

Such groups could include:

A working friendship with a group of respected, trusted peers can be a huge resource to everyone in the group. It provides a chance to learn about new challenges or technologies, and discuss problems. “Once you get plugged into some of these groups, you build up a rapport over time, so you know who really knows what they are talking about, and whom you are able to trust,” says Hagerman.

Get Educated All three IT security professionals interviewed for this blog earned IT-related bachelor’s degrees; two invested in graduate level study. “I had to take the time to get in and learn how things worked, why things like firewalls for example, worked,” says Justin Opatrny, network planner for General Mills, who holds a bachelor’s degree in management information systems from Iowa State and a Master’s in Information Assurance from Norwich University.

Understanding the fundamentals of networking, operating systems, security threats and risk is key to professional success.  “Anybody can learn to use an IT security tool like a firewall or an IPS (intrusion prevention system),” says Opatrny. “You need to know why you are using that tool, what advantages does it have, what disadvantages does it have—so you understand the full picture. Without those foundations, you’re likely to have less success running and securing your systems properly.”

Get Certified “Certification can be a great career builder,” contends Opatrny, who holds not only the CompTIA Security+ credential, but also the CISSP from ISC2 and forensic analyst and systems/network auditing credentials from GIAC. “It gives you some level of validation that you have a base knowledge of skill.” That can be a differentiator to an entry-level IT security employee. But he adds, “You’d better be able to prove on the job that you can apply these skills and knowledge—not just that you are good at taking tests.”

Get Involved Becoming involved with trade industry groups, such as CompTIA or ISSA, is good for the industry, and it’s good for you. Opatrny teaches, writes industry articles and volunteers as a subject matter expert; both Hagerman and Lee Myers, chief technology officer for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, helped write CompTIA’s CASP exam.  The “Share the Wealth” mentality is pretty prevalent in IT security, says Opatrny. “We are already at a disadvantage against these malicious agents. We have to take every chance we have to work with our peers, share what we’ve learned or experienced, so we don’t have to figure it all out ourselves.”

Keep Reading & Researching Beyond setting RSS feeds or Google News Reader, popular online resources for IT security professionals include:

  • BugTraq — Security Focus mailing list for the “detailed” discussion and announcement of computer security vulnerabilities: what they are, how to exploit them, and how to fix them. “There’s more information on there than any one person could absorb,” says Opatrny.
  • Center for Internet Security (daily cyber security tips, white papers, guides, videos and podcasts)
  • Experts Exchange (online forum where IT professionals provide answers on tech topics)
  • ISC2 (blog, journal, magazine)
  • ISSA (journal, executive forum, webcasts, whitepapers, e-news)
  • NIST’s Special Publications (800) series, and FIPS publications. The SP800 series are documents from NIST’s Information Technology Laboratory, featuring titles such as “Guidelines for Securing Wireless Local Area Networks” (published February 2012). “The SP800 Series is a great reference for learning different aspects of security,” says Opatrny. Myers adds that NIST FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards) “give you a great framework.”
  • SANS Institute (research, whitepapers, newsletters, webinars)
  • Secure Computing (monthly magazine and online news)
  • U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team— The Home and Business section offers basic tutorials (e.g., “Understanding Denial of Service Attacks”), as well as alerts current security issues, vulnerabilities, and exploits and weekly summaries of new vulnerabilities (and patch information when available).
  • Verizon 2011 Investigative  Response (IR) Caseload Review and its Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) — The DBIR is a “very thorough evaluation of all of the incidents Verizon has responded to over the last year—where the attacks are coming from, how effective they’ve been, areas getting attacked,” says Hagerman. “I find that very helpful in identifying what we should be protecting against.”

Via: Comptia Certifications Blog

Facebook gears up to announce ‘life-saving’ tool


Computerworld – Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is taking to the network news Tuesday to announce a new tool that is supposed to have the power to save lives.

ABC News announced Monday that reporter Robin Roberts will interview Zuckerberg about the new tool on Good Morning America Tuesday morning. The interview will be conducted in the social network’s new offices in Menlo Park, Calif.

Facebook declined to say what the new tool will do or what it will be called.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg also will get in on the press rounds and will talk about the new tool with Diane Sawyer on ABC’s World News program. According to ABC, Sandberg will talk about the personal stories that led Facebook to release the new tool.

Snippets from both interviews will be aired on Nightline and ABCnews.com.

While Facebook has not revealed what the tool will do, Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said the social network is in the perfect position to come up with something really helpful.

“Facebook has location info, so it knows where you are,” Kerravala said. “It also knows who you are and who is in your network, including family. With that kind of information, they could build an applet that allows you to broadcast emergency messages through Facebook.”

That kind of

via Facebook gears up to announce ‘life-saving’ tool – Computerworld.

Analysis: Microsoft Moves To End iPad’s Free Ride On Windows

April 30, 2012 Leave a comment

By Kevin McLaughlin, CRN
April 27, 2012    7:51 PM ET

Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) believes the iPads and Android tablets its customers are using to access Windows desktops using virtual desktop infrastructure are under-licensed, and its new Windows 8 Companion Device License aims to plug this loophole.

“When you look at the number of iPad devices in the enterprise that are basically accessing and running Windows 7, using and getting the value of the software, there wasn’t a monetization of that for us that was associated with those things,” Ross Brown, vice president of solution partners and independent software vendors in Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group, told CRN earlier this week.

Microsoft’s unveiling of the CDL did not go over well, as some partners and customers interpreted it as a naked attempt to slow the iPad’s march into the enterprise — understandable since Microsoft isn’t requiring it for Windows RT tablets — while others predicted it would put a damper on VDI business.

Most surprising, though, was that some people interpreted the CDL as some sort of new, hardball tactic on Microsoft’s part. Truth be told, Microsoft has always had a skittish view toward VDI, and has always been unapologetic about its Windows licensing terms.

For example, Microsoft does not offer its hosting partnersa Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) for Windows 7, but partners can offer desktops-as-a-service using Windows Server and Remote Desktop Services.

Microsoft partners can sell hosted Windows 7 desktop-as-a-service through VDI as long as the end customer has an existing licensing agreement with Microsoft. However, partners must also have dedicated physical hosts for each customer, and this extra hurdle negates multi-tenancy and essentially renders this option moot.

What’s ironic about the hubbub over the CDL is that it actually represents a sort of compromise on Microsoft’s part. And that’s unusual, because the words “compromise” and “Windows” usually don’t occur in any conversation about Microsoft licensing.

Here’s the situation Microsoft faces: Under its current VDI licensing terms, customers who use devices not covered by Software Assurance — like iPads, thin clients, and contractor or employee-owned PCs — must buy the Virtual Desktop Access license subscription, which costs $100 per device annually.

But according to virtualization experts, many Microsoft customers are not adhering to the VDA requirement — some willingly, others because they simply don’t realize it is required.

“The complexity of licensing with respect to VDI is now such that Microsoft has effectively made it impossible for any enterprise IT manager to ensure compliance,” said Simon Bramfitt, founder and research director at Entelechy Associates, a Concord, Calif.-based virtualization consultancy.

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Analysis: Microsoft Moves To End iPad’s Free Ride On Windows

April 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

Microsoft has no mechanism in place to remotely track whether or not they are in compliance, but some customers could be looking at much higher licensing costs if they were to face an audit.

“There are many organizations out there that have deployed VDI and do not understand the licensing, and they are all out of compliance,” said Mike Strohl, president of Entisys, a Concord, Calif.-based solution provider. “They’re not thinking about iPads and smartphones and all the extra endpoints.”

The CDL could clear things up, partners say, as it gives customers the right to access corporate desktops through VDI on up to four personally owned devices. Microsoft has not said how much the CDL will cost, but customers with large numbers of VDI-equipped iPads are obviously going to be fine with the CDL if it costs less than the VDA.

The alternative for Microsoft would be to stage mass audits of customers that use VDI with tablets to ensure compliance with the VDA. Such a move would likely be a PR disaster for Microsoft, though — one that would make the recent uproar over the CDL look tame by comparison.

Jon Roskill, Microsoft’s vice president of worldwide partner sales and marketing, told CRN earlier this week that the company will rely on customers to do the right thing. “Our whole software licensing methodology is based on trust and will continue to be,” he said.

There is no doubt that Microsoft is favoring Windows RT tablets by not requiring the CDL, but this isn’t part of a strategy to keep Appleout of the enterprise: Microsoft just

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

wants to get paid. Partners want Microsoft to get paid, too, and no one is advocating that Microsoft give Windows away for free.

According to one solution provider with nationwide reach, the issue is not whether Microsoft has a right to monetize Windows VDI more aggressively; it is the impact on the channel of having to learn yet another licensing option.

“What is getting to organizations is the layers and layers of licensing: The Remote Desktop Services CAL, the VDI Suite, and the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack. All of these are on top of VDA and CDL licensing,” said the source, who requested anonymity.

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